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This Bluebird Wants Me Dead — Vehicles

Self-released (2014)

True story: I got drunk and tried to start a fight with Ian McCulloch a few years ago at a SXSW "secret show" because his band Echo and the Bunnymen just wouldn't play "The Cutter" soon enough in their set. Apparently I threw more than one water bottle at his face and taunted him severely before Mrs. McDude dragged me out of there, somehow preventing me from getting an ugly knock on my rap sheet. This is why we can't have nice things, I guess.

What's this have to do with Vehicles? Well, they remind me a lot of Echo and the Bunnymen, and I mean that in the nicest way possible (though in all of music journalism, probably no band has ever been compared negatively to Echo and the Bunnymen). Cody Cloud and company are set to release their third album, This Bluebird Wants Me Dead, Feb. 22 at Lucky's, and it is fantastic.

Hearing a band with a mastery of traditional song structures who manage to keep their sound fresh and interesting, while still fetishizing late-'80s pop sounds is a blast. Opener "Projections" acts as a fine introduction to anyone unfamiliar with Vehicles' work-spacey guitars, a killer chorus, and the best snare drum sound. Other highlights include the very slinky and smoky "Middle Modern," with its grooving bass and tremolo guitar, and the sugarsweet vocal harmonies and space-guitar bridge in "No Taxi."

Songs are mostly upbeat, danceable and super catchy, and band members show a ton of restraint, with emphasis on showcasing great songs over individual talent, though there's plenty of talent to go around in this band. And these songs are great, except the endings: unlike say, Interpol or Echo and the Bunnymen, or I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness, who benefit from enough time in the studio to really benefit from outros and fades, Vehicles' songs just kinda…. stop. It's a small detail, but 11 abrupt endings seem pretty anomalous compared to how thoughtful the rest of the record is.

This Bluebird Wants Me Dead offers up a solid 45 minutes of thoughtful, well-written, well-produced, dark and danceable pop, and its appearance will be a most-welcome addition to your record collection. Oh, and I forgot to mention: When I refer to This Bluebird Wants Me Dead as a record, I mean it. It's a nice, shiny LP with beautiful packaging and as a bonus, it comes with a free digital download. Grab this record.

Record release Feb. 22 at Lucky's. Virgin Mary Satellite and DeVeils open. $5.